By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan described the recent appointments of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Debold Sinas and retired lieutenant general Antonio Parlade Jr., as Office of the President undersecretary and as deputy director-general of the National Security Council respectively, as “moves that strengthen the culture of impunity in the Philippines.”
In a statement, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the two former generals are facing complaints and allegations of human rights violations and war crimes. Their appointment, she added, only means that they are not going to be held accountable for these acts.
Palabay reiterated that Sinas presided over police operations resulting in the killings of peasants and farmworkers in Negros through Oplan Sauron, as well as police raids leading to arbitrary arrests of activists in Negros and Manila.
Palabay said that as police chief, Sinas continued to implement the administration’s bloody “war on drugs” while Parlade, as chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command, committed various human rights violations including the Bloody Sunday raids.
She said that Parlade is facing numerous complaints at the Ombudsman and at the Commission on Human Rights for endangering civilians and activists through his rabid red-tagging.
Palabay said that with the appointment of Sinas and Parlade, there are at least 70 retired military generals, police directors, admirals and colonels who have been appointed to the Cabinet and other agencies, including government-owned corporations.
Some of them hold posts concurrently in the National Task Force Against COVID-19, she said.
“The militarization of the bureaucracy is in full swing during the Duterte administration. This trend fortifies the view that the administration primarily uses a militarist approach in its governance — from its policies regarding the drug war, its counterinsurgency campaign, to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Palabay said.
For 2022 elections
For the Makabayan bloc, the appointment of the two generals is connected to the 2022 national elections.
“Parlade is a known rabid red-tagger and commander of human rights violations, which is why Duterte will take advantage of this to further discredit the opposition and Makabayan bloc this election season,” said ACT Teachers’ Party-list Rep. France Castro in a statement.
She added that the appointment of the two generals is expected because Duterte “is fond of recycling garbage.”
“The Duterte administration is better prepared to plan for more intense fascism, red-tagging and oppression of the people than to plan to address the shortcomings in the healthcare system and plan for the safe return to school of millions of students,” she added.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas meanwhile said the appointment of Sinas “illustrates that bloodlust is thicker than water.”
“Duterte wants to keep Sinas close to him in the run-up to the elections – as an ominous but desperate warning that any opposition to his dynastic ambitions will be dealt with brute force and dirty operations,” she said.
Rewarding rights violators
Meanwhile, for Palabay the appointments of Sinas and Parlade “definitely show Duterte’s penchant for rewarding human rights violators with government posts.”
“Taxpayers’ money is being spent to pay for their salaries so they could use government resources for mass deception and State violence. Their appointments should be strongly denounced by all freedom-loving Filipinos as we demand that they be held accountable for their crimes.” (RVO)